British firms start Film Export U.K.

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LONDON -- Thirty-one British film sales companies have joined forces to launch a trade association, Film Export U.K., aimed at promoting the sale of British films overseas, it was announced Tuesday by Ralf Kamp, chairman of sales company Odyssey Entertainment, at a launch reception at the House of Lords.

The group aims to provide sales companies with a lobbying voice within the industry that will be able to champion their interests with government and public bodies in the U.K. and Europe as well as represent members' interests on such issues as new-media rights.

It also will encourage new talent to join the sector by developing targeted training plans and will raise awareness of member companies, their activities and their films at home and in the international marketplace.

Launch members include such ventures as Bankside Films, Capitol Films, Dreamachine, High Point, Handmade Films International, Park Entertainment, Odyssey Entertainment and Pathe Pictures International.

"There are more independent film sales companies in the U.K. than anywhere else in the world, except California, and yet many people are not aware of what and how much we do for each and every film This is something we need to redress," Kamp said.

"We believe that we are at a crucial moment in our industry's history and the U.K. sales companies have joined together at this time to ensure the future success and well-being of the U.K. film business," he added.

Film Export U.K.'s board will comprise Kamp, Hilary Davis of Bankside Films, Samantha Horley of Lumina Films, Nicole Mackey of Fortissimo Films U.K. and Mark Vennis of Moviehouse Entertainment. Charlie Bloye has been appointed chief executive.

The U.K. Film Council's international department has provided the new organization with seed funding and Film Council CEO John Woodward welcomed its official launch.

"Sales companies play a critical role in the film industry and ensure that British films are seen across the world," Woodward said. "There's definitely strength in numbers, and I wish the association every success in communicating, representing and developing the interests of the sales sector."
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